Marek stays in control, the branding happens
Chapter 14: The Price for Hate
this page added by Cyndra
“It is almost ready.”
Marek nodded in approval, continuing his blatant fondling of the young ranger’s body. Aran picked up the branding iron and turned to the young man who stared back at him in wide-eye fright; the only control Faramir had left, but soon the ranger would lose that ability as well. A sense of guilt beset Aran.
He placed his hand on Faramir’s leg, squeezing it gently. “The temporary paralysis benefits you, child. Without it, your body’s natural reflexes would jerk when the iron touched your skin. It would also risk an inaccurate brand that would…”
“Risk my anger,” Marek growled, cutting off the advisor’s words with a frustrated sigh. “Enough talk, Aran. You carry on like a drunken sailor.”
Aran raised his eyes, meeting those of the prince’s. “The branding works best, my prince if he is placed on a hard surface. I beg you reconsider. The least you....”
“The bed, spread wide, and in my arms. You will challenge me no more on this matter, Aran.”
Tension between advisor and prince filled the air; giving Faramir hope that Aran could persuade Marek into forsaking the branding. However, Aran sighed deeply, nodding in surrender. “As you so command, your highness. Elevate his lower back.”
Marek’s hand braced the back of Faramir’s neck, lowering the ranger’s upper body to the bed. Green eyes stared down at him. “Look upon my face, young Hurin. I desire to watch your eyes, see the pain fill them the moment you become mine.”
Faramir tried blinking his eyes, anything to defy Marek, but his gaze remained frozen on those powerful green eyes.
He felt something warm against his groin, heat increasing before it touched his flesh. Searing pain exploded throughout his body, sending waves of excruciating agony that caused tears to pool into the corners of his eyes. He tried screaming, but his mouth refused to open. Never had he endured such pain. It seemed to go on forever.
The stench of burnt flesh filled the air, making his stomach churn. Whirlwinds of color flashed through his mind’s eye quickly fading into sharps images of gray that gave way to darkness.
Tossing the branding iron into the small brazier, Aran grabbed the small open jar next to the brazier. He dipped his finger inside, coating it with the jell substance and gently applied it to the raw skin. “Aided with the brew, he should sleep deeply for many hours.”
“Spare me the diagnosis.” Marek placed the unconscious body comfortably across the bed, spreading the legs apart to inspect the brand personally. “My concern is the mark. Did it take?”
“It’s too early to tell.” Aran sat down, dropped the jar into the top drawer and angrily slammed it shut. The prince’s head shot up, glaring at his advisor for an explanation. Aran obliged him. “Your concern for your consort overwhelms me.”
“You are tired, therefore I shall overlook this insubordination.” Marek glanced at Faramir before walking to the door to unlock it. “Treat him with extreme care, Aran. The men have been patient long enough. They await my arrival to toast my upcoming wedding. I will not disappoint them.”
“Yet you will Faramir.”
“Your duties concern my consort, not me.” Marek opened the door, and stepped into the threshold. “When we reach Umbar, I want all eyes gazing upon him, envious what I have and they do not.”
With the last of his correspondent letters written, Aran called the captain. He kept the door cracked, preventing prying eyes from peeping at the prince’s nude consort. Marek’s jealousy was well-known and though the prince showed little interest in Faramir, Marek would not hesitate to kill anyone who trespassed on his property.
“Deliver these to the Tolfalas ship. They are Prince Marek’s personal invitation to his wedding.” He closed the door, and went to examine the ranger. He placed his hand over Faramir’s brow, found it cool, and then examined the area that had been branded.
The mark, a perfect brand, had healed faster than expected. When Faramir woke, he should only experience a little soreness and discomfort, and that should diminish within a few hours.
The door opened, Marek had returned. “Has he stirred?”
“No, but he should wake soon. Come.” Aran motioned the prince forward. “This should please you.”
Marek glanced over his advisor’s shoulder, staring down at the nude body on the bed. “He is truly mine,” the prince whispered, lowering himself to the edge of the bed. “Never have I desired one as I have desired this one.”
“May I speak freely, your highness?” The prince nodded, expecting the usual praise. Instead Aran glared with such intensity Marek regretted his decision. “Always you place yourself about all. Have you no feeling for Faramir. You bring him aboard this vessel, treating him not as your betrothed, but a whore. You shamed the boy, flaunting your power over him.”
“What I do with my....”
“You gave me consent, my lord. I have not finished.” Never had he defied Marek, but the prince’s behavior bordered on sadism. “You branded Faramir, forever labeling him a traitor in the eyes of Gondor. In Umbar, he will be scrutinized, ridiculed for his Gondorian ancestry. Yet your only concern remains bedding him the first available moment.”
“Why this attachment, Aran? Remember, old friend, Faramir belongs to me. He will not replace the grandson Gondor slaughtered. I vow Aragorn’s realm will witness my wrath and suffer greatly for the wounds they have dealt us.”
“What have you done?”
“When the Gondorian ship leaves Pelargir carrying Aragorn’s envoy to the wedding, a courier will travel to Linhir and deliver a wedding invitation to Boromir. The delay guarantees he will not disrupt the wedding, but his arrival should coincide with the festivities. There, I will proclaim a toast to Aragorn and Denethor, the two men who brokered the treaties that gave me Faramir. As Umbar and Harad celebrates my marriage, we shall witness the beginning of a Gondorian civil war.”
“You used Faramir to drive a wedge between King Aragorn and Lord Boromir.”
“Forgive me, your highness, but you are a fool!” Marek opened his mouth, but Aran continued undaunted. “If you would only put aside your hatred, Faramir would grow to love you.”
“I would sooner fall on my sword than have any Gondorian’s love. I desire only their deaths, every one of them.” Marek’s green eyes glistened with unshed tears. “My brother’s death would have been prevented if Denethor had compassion. Instead he degraded my brother, tossing him into a dungeon, leaving him to rot like discarded garbage. Ten long years I have waited to avenge his death.”
“Had not he died, you would not be crown prince, nor his wife yours.”
“True, however irreverent. I always get what I want, Aran.” Marek traced his long fingers up Faramir’s naked thigh, savoring the body that would soon lay in his arms willingly. “Including this one, Gondor’s most cherished, and the only one who denied me. His brother, with Harad’s aid, shall destroy Aragorn’s kingdom and seize it for himself.”
“You have everything, yet you have naught. You took your brother’s wife, forced yourself on her to bare your heir.” Aran pointed to Faramir, livid how Marek had twisted the peace treaty into his own personal vendetta. “Now you take this one as your consort in the name of revenge. Do you not love anyone?”
“You have said enough, Advisor. I dare not remain here least I do something I regret later. Fulfill your duty, and keep your opinions to yourself.” Marek angrily left the cabin, slamming the door behind him.
Aran looked out the port window at the dark sea. Night had fallen. If the weather cooperated, they would reach Umbar mid-morning and his duties would turn to Faramir, preparing him for his new life as Prince Marek’s consort.
He turned and discovered Faramir staring at him. How much had the young man overheard? Aran moved to the bed. “Any soreness? Pain?”
Faramir shook his head. “I knew he would not love me, but his hatred...” Aran stared at him with uncertainty in his eyes. “I gave Prince Marek my word. Though the marriage will be loveless, I will honor him as my husband.” Faramir glanced around the cabin while Aran retrieved a robe from the lower desk drawer. “May I have some water? My throat is dry.”
“Prince Marek does not deserve you.” Aran smiled, watching Faramir blush at the compliment. He placed his hand on Faramir’s shoulder, helping him to a sitting position. He placed the robe around Faramir’s shoulders. “Wear this. It belongs to Marek. Go out the door, and to the right. The third barrel.”
The young man glanced down at himself, looked up at the advisor and blushed even more. He never realized he was nude.
“Heed this warning. Get the water and return quickly. No matter the reason, never remove the robe. It identifies you as Prince Marek’s betrothed.”
Faramir nodded, understanding the warning. He left the cabin, found the third barrel and filled the cup. He had already drunk two cupfuls and filling it again when a low moan drew his attention to several crates.
Another groan drifted from behind the crates. Worried someone was hurt, Faramir started to call for help but found nobody on deck. The half moon provided enough light to guide him behind the tall crates.
Someone grabbed him from behind, and wrestled him to the deck. Two figures jumped out of the darkness, helping his attacker hold him down. A heavy hand covered his mouth as others tore open the robe.
What happens next?
Please visit the talk page to comment on this chapter.